Between the United States and Russia, a new cold war around the Arctic?

Posted Apr 22, 2022, 10:45 AM

This area, among the most remote and inhospitable on the planet, arouses envy and fuels tensions between the United States and Russia. At the far north of the globe, in the Arctic, on either side of their common maritime border, Moscow and Washington are consolidating their military positions.

In March, the American army deployed no less than 8,000 soldiers in Alaska for a major exercise, in response to the military maneuvers of the Russian neighbor in recent years, says the “New York Times”. A waltz that translates the tensions in this region as the melting of the ice progresses, opening the way to the conquest of the Arctic, disputed by many nations. And the war in Ukraine could intensify competition for the sovereignty of its resources.

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“Regaining Domination of the Arctic”

In line with the Pentagon’s 2021 strategic plan to “regain dominance of the Arctic”, efforts are focused on Alaska, the most militarized region of the United States. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested to expand the port of Nome (west coast), which should accommodate three new icebreakers (Russia already has more than 50). And the Air Force transferred dozens of F-35 fighter jets.

On the other side of the Bering Strait, Moscow is developing its own defense system. From airfield renovations to the creation of new military bases, military training and underwater weapons testing, Washington regularly castigates Russia’s aggressive moves to militarize the region.

” Tense situation “

A “Tense situation”, summarizes Troy Bouffard, director of the Arctic Security and Resilience Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, with the “New York Times”, especially as the United States and Russia are not the only ones to covet the zone: Canada, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and even China invite themselves into the dance. If diplomatic channels have been favored until now, notably with the Arctic Council, this dynamic was suspended after the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

The breakdown of Russian-American relations could therefore open the way to a multitude of future problems, notes the specialist. Although there is no imminent conflict in the Arctic, there could well be friction over the way Russia manages offshore waters, or differences over underwater exploration.

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